Leave a comment

Post-Collapse? yeah, but let the future identify you in these songs

So we are roughly six months out from our planned “Post (or ‘pre’) Collapse extravaganza”, a concert celebrating the decline of industrial civilization as part of the March Music Moderne festival in 2012 (and NO this is not ‘doomsday’ prophecy but basic ‘infinite growth meets finite resource collision’ fact). As I put together all the details and assume the role of “Master of Emails” I would like to clear the air (that is the air mostly in my head) preemptively so folks know where I’m coming from which is not Mad Max (or ‘Jingo Justin’) or whatever the appellation may be. So here’s a little something I put together to calm would be worriers and the post-modern scorn that may incur:

“THERE is so much art, spirituality, design, and exquisitely beautiful and uniquely human creation out there, and it’s buried under such bullshit(emphasis his)

~Michael C. Ruppert

      WHEN one contemplates the inevitable breakdown of modern industrial civilization, one recalls the causes; oil, energy, economy, geography, climate change, ecological exploitation etc, etc. In a sense it is overwhelmingly easy to dwell and focus on the bullshit.

      The rise of industrialized societies first started to climb after the dark ages. The Renaissance made way for the Enlightenment, which made way for a new paradigm of human enterprise and empire, one of energy and machines–of industry. The 19th Century brought the use of coal, powering into the mighty and unprecedented Twentieth Century – one defined by the cheapest and most available carbon resource: the black gold of oil. With oil we have ushered the Electronic and Green Revolutions, a world of constant light, constant energy – constant consumption.

       Yet, the technology, fueled by energy progress, had with it the same innate human characteristic drives that have always been with us, following us wherever we go through time and space: curiosity, ingenuity, expression – creation. The creative endeavor of music perhaps being the most poignant and mysterious.

      We know very little of ancient music. The scant archeological evidence still leaves us guessing as to the ‘who’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of such instruments or ceremonies known in prehistory, and further into the first classical empires and civilizations. We are at a loss at any ideas of what they sounded like. Surly if (I say if, not when) future civilizations unearthed an Apple computer there is little indication of the creative musical sounds that once emerged from its plastic and titanium parts and features, by then scattered in the dust and elements. This is granted, of course, that we entirely lose a base of knowledge and ability to decipher recorded media over time – a luxury that alludes us as we ponder, and look to the past, and only imagine what esoteric timbres emerged from the original cradles of civilization so many thousands of years ago.

      It is no coincidence that the laptop emerged out of the same industrial race that has caused our consumptive problems. In fact the very development of technology, instruments, aesthetics, styles, and music in general (specific but certainly not contained to the Western world) all in large part boomed and blossomed along with everything else. The internal combustion engines of Henry Ford triumphed as the first Toscanini radio broadcasts unwittingly ascended into space.

      The pianoforte, or Klavier, a marvelous and technologically advanced tool for its time revolutionized music, and we still live and breath its influence two and a half centuries later. The orchestra, reaching its grandest with Berlioz then Wagner, emerged with the factories of the mid to late 19th Century. The radio and microphone – perhaps the most influential musical tools of the Twentieth Century – conquered culture with the act of sound recording and dissemination, ushering a new electronic era of both humanity and its music.

       However one sees the disasters and follies of human “progress” one cannot negate the magnificent and inspired forces that were only made available in its path – that triumphant evolution of sound following our creative spirit wherever we went – from the bone flutes and goat skin drums to the recordings aboard Voyager 1 now reaching the frontiers of our universe – as Charles Ives said and set to song – “That great and glorious noise. “

      We must keep that noise and its history. It is a valued heritage of our condition, and while computers are used both for creating money and bombs – those transactions of the evil – they are used for creating music and art and we must remember ourselves by the latter.

      When the bullshit is dug and sifted away by the future we will know ourselves again, and we will thrive. As Walt Whitman said in his most prescient of transcendence; “Let the future identify you in these songs.”

Leave a comment

CPOP Opens Experimental Mini-Fest

On August 14, CPOP was invited to participate at a mini-fest of new and experimental music hosted by the Someday Lounge and thingny. We opened the show with some group improvisation and then sat back and watched the spectacle ensue as fine performances by Fear No Music members Nancy Ives and Joel Bluestone, as well as Bryan McWhorter with members of Beta Collide and others continued late into the night.

However, a highlight was the tour-de-force performance of thingny founders Paul Pinto and Jeffery Young presenting their ‘portable’ opera Jeff Young and Paul Pinto Patriots Run for Public Office on a Platform of Swift and Righteous Immigration Reform, Lots of Jobs, and a Healthy Environment offering a variety of music theater, dark socio-political subtext, and creative and interesting sound textures using violin, record player, zither, glockenspiel, and a host of electronics and other goodies. It was a treat to see these guys in action and hope to see them again soon sending lots of luck on the remainder of their West coast tour.

CPOP is proud that our inaugural appearence was shared with so many other artists in the community in keeping with our mission to collaborate and further Portland’s community of new and fresh ventures in contemporary music.

1 Comment

The Sting

What is CPOP?

Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project. These days anagrams are the cats pajamas, we hope our music will both ‘pop’ in your face and challenge your ears for a long time to come. We feel that creating contemporary music is very much a project in every sense and needs the dedication of people ready to get their hands dirty.


We need performers and composers, music enthusiasts, families, artists and audiophiles, philanthropists and friends. Portland has the community to support innovative growth in contemporary music therefore CPOP is a community supported orchestra and it will exist only if you and others in your community desire it to.


One of my favorite pieces is the Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen written in 1940, but perhaps it’s the story of its creation that intrigues me the most.

Messiaen was 31 years old when Nazi Germany invaded France. He was captured in June, 1940 sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a POW camp. He was fortunate to meet a sympathetic prison guard who gave him materials and a place to compose. He met a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and began his quartet with these specific performers in mind. The first sketches were performed, with the composer joining in on a broken upright piano, in January 1941 for the prisoners and guards of the camp. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece.

Messiaen's Stalag VIII-A

Why new music? Given what we now know of Nazi camps it seems ridiculous that anyone would have the energy or passion to write or perform a new piece of music. Yet despite fear and depravity the POW and concentration camps of World War II were full of poets, artists, musicians whom did not stop creating—fueling their passions off the barest necessities. It would seem music must be one of these necessities. People create. The camps of Nazi Germany were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without respect, but they were emphatically not without music. Creating music is part of survival; a mysterious expression of the human spirit, of who we are. Music is one of the ways in which we say, “I’m a human being, and my life has value.” For composers music is the epitome of life, an essential act that reaches out to others to remind them of their humanity and their meaning, if we only listen.

CPOP does not understand music to be part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper would have us believe. It’s not a luxury that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not an amusement, hobby, or pass time. Music is a basic need. In fact, more than basic, it is a critical need.  Music gives us something intangible. Music gives us experience and experience gives us wisdom.